Interfaces (C# Programming Guide)

Interfaces are defined by using the interface keyword, as shown in the following example:

interface IEquatable<T>
    bool Equals(T obj);

Interfaces describe a group of related functionalities that can belong to any class or struct. Interfaces can consist of methods, properties, events, indexers, or any combination of those four member types. An interface cannot contain fields. Interfaces members are automatically public.

When a class or struct is said to inherit an interface, it means that the class or struct provides an implementation for all of the members defined by the interface. The interface itself provides no functionality that a class or struct can inherit in the way that base class functionality can be inherited. However, if a base class implements an interface, the derived class inherits that implementation.

Classes and structs can inherit from interfaces in a manner similar to how classes can inherit a base class or struct, with two exceptions:

  • A class or struct can inherit more than one interface.

  • When a class or struct inherits an interface, it inherits only the method names and signatures, because the interface itself contains no implementations. For example:

    public class Car : IEquatable<Car>
        public string Make {get; set;}
        public string Model { get; set; }
        public string Year { get; set; }
        // Implementation of IEquatable<T> interface 
        public bool Equals(Car car)
            if (this.Make == car.Make &&
                this.Model == car.Model &&
                this.Year == car.Year)
                return true;
                return false;

To implement an interface member, the corresponding member on the class must be public, non-static, and have the same name and signature as the interface member. Properties and indexers on a class can define extra accessors for a property or indexer defined on an interface. For example, an interface may declare a property with a get accessor, but the class implementing the interface can declare the same property with both a get and set accessor. However, if the property or indexer uses explicit implementation, the accessors must match.

Interfaces and interface members are abstract; interfaces do not provide a default implementation. For more information, see Abstract and Sealed Classes and Class Members.

The IEquatable<T> interface announces to the user of the object that the object can determine whether it is equal to other objects of the same type, and the user of the interface does not have to know how this is implemented.

Interfaces can inherit other interfaces. It is possible for a class to inherit an interface multiple times, through base classes or interfaces it inherits. In this case, the class can only implement the interface one time, if it is declared as part of the new class. If the inherited interface is not declared as part of the new class, its implementation is provided by the base class that declared it. It is possible for a base class to implement interface members using virtual members; in that case, the class inheriting the interface can change the interface behavior by overriding the virtual members. For more information about virtual members, see Polymorphism.

Interfaces Overview

An interface has the following properties:

  • An interface is like an abstract base class: any non-abstract type inheriting the interface must implement all its members.

  • An interface cannot be instantiated directly.

  • Interfaces can contain events, indexers, methods and properties.

  • Interfaces contain no implementation of methods.

  • Classes and structs can inherit from more than one interface.

  • An interface can itself inherit from multiple interfaces.

In This Section

Interfaces in Learning C# 3.0: Master the fundamentals of C# 3.0

See Also


C# Programming Guide


Inheritance (C# Programming Guide)